For the past 45 minutes or so, I’ve been digging through the LexisNexis archive in order to pull clips from Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol’s record on gay rights.
The reason? Earlier today, the marketing department of Kristol’s magazine sent out a letter on behalf of an anti-gay advertiser that claimed there are “Radical Homosexuals infiltrating the United States Congress” with a plan to “indoctrinate a whole generation of American children with pro-homosexual propaganda” by holding up “sexual deviants” as “models of virtue.” The letter, by Eugene Delgado of Public Advocate, claims the “ultimate goal is to create a new America based on sexual promiscuity.” The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a prominent pro-LGBT rights group, issued a release calling on the Weekly Standard to stop fundraising for bigots and for Kristol to “apologize and distance his publication from the hateful misinformation campaign.”
Weekly Standard publisher Terry Eastland told Politico’s Dylan Byers that the ad went out due to a vetting error and it is “not the sort of advertising that we would accept, nor will we accept it in the future.” Through Eastland, Kristol refused to condemn the ad, having Eastland simply say, “I think we’ve said enough.”
I wasn’t surprised by Kristol’s refusal to condemn the ad considering his past positions on gay rights, of which I had some knowledge from past research. For instance, in 1998, Andrew Sullivan reported in the New York Times Magazine that in June 1997 Kristol “gave the concluding address at a Washington conservative conference dedicated, as its brochure put it, to exposing homosexuality as ”the disease that it is.’“
Diving into LexisNexis, I found Kristol defending an ad claiming that “homosexuals can change”:
COKIE ROBERTS: (on camera) My question is why are they running the ads? What is the politics here, Bill?
BILL KRISTOL: I don’t think this is political. These people exist, Sam. You may not want them to exist. There are people who say “I was gay once. I didn’t like it. I sought counseling and I now am happily heterosexual.”
CLARENCE PAGE: Read the fine print.
BILL KRISTOL: All the ad is saying, ex-gays — gays came out of the closet 25 years ago, and now ex-gays — I don’t know how many, there clearly are hundreds, maybe a few thousand – - are coming out of the closet and saying “In every case at least, homosexuality is not genetically ingrained.” They have a right to say this and I don’t think this is a. [ABC This Week, 7/19/1998]
But easily the most interesting thing I found was the transcript of a debate Kristol had with gay rights activist Tom Stoddard in April 1993 on Larry King Live.
During the debate, Kristol rejected federal protections against being fired for being gay, saying that he “would personally disapprove of such a firing” but “that doesn’t mean we need a federal law to prevent it.” He also said that being gay was “a choice” in many cases, but also that “There may well be biological inclinations in many cases.” Kristol specifically rejected the idea that gay couples should be given the same “dignity” and “respect” as heterosexual couples. He also repeatedly said that “Some discrimination is perfectly reasonable” and defended that claim by making an argument that would have been right at home in the Public Advocate letter sent out by the Weekly Standard today:
Mr. STODDARD: What discrimination is reasonable?
Mr.KRISTOL: The discrimination between trying to teach our kids what most of human history has thought was a desirable lifestyle that will contribute to their happiness, and trying to deter them – not to prohibit, and not to punish – but trying to steer them in a direction that will contribute to their happiness. [CNN 4/23/1993]
Kristol’s closing comment in the interview was to say that the gay rights movement was a “tragedy”: “What really hasn’t been discussed today is the tragedy, really, of the gay rights movement in America – the tragedy of AIDS, the tragedy of the really irresponsible behavior, unfortunately, of so many people in that community, which has really been a human tragedy for our country.”
HRC will be waiting a long time before they ever hear Bill Kristol “apologize and distance his publication from the hateful misinformation campaign of the so-called Public Advocate of the United States.”